During a segment of his show Friday night, HBO’s Real Time host Bill Maher said slain Ferguson, Missouri teen Michael Brown was acting like a thug moments before he was gunned down by police officer Darren Wilson on Aug. 9.
While making the point that individuals weigh in on situations with emotion while disregarding facts, Maher first criticized Ferguson police officers who supported Wilson by wearing “I am Darren Wilson” bracelets:
You know what else I find disturbing is that everybody in America just sides with their own people and doesn’t look at the facts. The cops, I saw on the news a couple of weeks ago, were wearing bracelets or something that said, “I am Darren Wilson.” Why do you want to throw your lot in with this plain murderer?
Then he turned his scrutiny to Brown’s friends and family:
And Michael Brown’s people. I’m sorry, but Michael Brown’s people say he is a gentle giant. Well, we saw of when he was in that 7-11. No, he wasn’t a gentle giant. He was committing a robbery and he pushed that guy. He was acting like a thug, not a gentle giant. He certainly didn’t deserve to be shot for it.
Because, of course, what would a Maher segment on Ferguson be without racist false equivalency. He might as well have said Brown was “no angel.”
While giving the eulogy at Brown’s funeral, his great uncle, Pastor Charles Ewing, said, “We called him the gentle giant. We called him Big Mike. We called him Mike Mike. He said one day the world will know my name.”
Brown’s mother, Lesley McSpadden, also described her firstborn son as a “gentle giant.”
“He was a big teddy bear,” she said. “He touched everybody. My son was the type of person that everybody flocked to him. Everybody wanted to know about Michael. Everybody wanted to be around Michael.”
In essence, Maher called the slain teen’s mother a liar and used the word “thug” in a racist, politically charged climate where “thug” is often used as a synonym for Black; when, as evidenced by the murders of Trayvon Martin and Jordan Davis and the subsequent trials for their killers, George Zimmerman and Michael Dunn, “thug” has risen to the level of legal defense.
During this same segment, panelist Mary Matelin, said, “Ninety percent of the greatest cause of Black youth murdered is murder by other Black youth, not the “Po-Po.” After her foray into deflection and pathologizing Blackness, she mentioned that she did work in New Orleans to help Black youth become employed, some as welders.
Maher replied, “We need welders, we don’t need anybody else in the music industry.”
Dr. Cornel West, who was also a panelist, laughed as if that were the funniest joke he’s ever heard.
I’ve never found liberal racism funny, nor deflection from discussing the extrajudicial executions of unarmed Black youth an acceptable pivot in conversation, but to each their own.
Watch the clip below, including Dr. West’s response: